Angry letter from seller

Did you tell the client there was $80k of work? What was the work you so identified?

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I hope you didn’t. The was a case where the new owners sued the home inspector, for being so far off his estimate of repairs, and WON!

He learned a lesson for all of us.

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Also, if you quote $$$ and the buyer buys and starts fixing things and the fixes rise above the quoted $$$ you may be asked to pay the difference because you said it could be fixed for $$$.

Larry, anyway you can cite that case. I would like to read about it.

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Not off the top of my head but it was in this forum. So, you can search the forum for it, Scott.

Maybe this one Larry?

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I believe so Tom. Thanks!

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This is exactly why I never put anything in writing that remotely suggests what the cost of a repair would be. There are some of those third party software options that offer estimates for repairs in a given area, but I refuse to utilize anything like that. It just opens up a bunch of liability I want nothing to do with.

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Smart inspector…

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Bill, the seller is accusing you of being “unprofessional, unethical” and threatening to report you to the Indiana Home Inspection Licensing Board for exceeding SOP by providing cost estimates. Your reply is weak, I hope you didn’t already send it.

According to Indiana Standards of Competent Performance, licensees are not required to determine any of the following…methods, materials, or costs of corrections. You should include language from the Indiana SOP that allows you to exceed minimum standards.

These minimum standards of competent performance are not intended to limit licensees from…including other inspection services, systems, or components in addition to those required by these minimum standards of competent performance…specifying repairs, provided the licensee is appropriately qualified and willing to do so

Licensees shall…perform services and express opinions based on genuine conviction…within their areas of education, training, or experience.

Were you an estimator or project manager for a remodeling contractor? Your response should include any experience or education that qualifies you to include cost estimates in your report.

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Thank you everyone for the thoughtful replies. Lots of good wisdom shared here from inspectors more experienced than me, which I took heed of. And good reminders going foward.

To answer a question that came up a few times in the thread- No, I never told the buyer what to fix, or estimated any costs of repairs.

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Yep people take what you say and run with it. This is why my GoPro records every inspection from the time I get out the car till I get back in it. What I do and don’t do, what was said and not said etc.

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Home Inspector Sued By the Seller (workingre.com)

Go get you a GoPro camera and a couple batteries with a chest harness. It’s great for pulling up what happened and what was and wasn’t said. It’s also a good quality assurance tool for you.

It happens a lot in Canada. Here is a recent case …

He also estimated the cost of replacing the two beams he did identify at $4,000, while the actual cost was $35,000.

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In that case, although tempting, I would just ignore them. It sounds like the buyer was asking for an $80,000 allowance or price adjustment. The sellers just wants somebody to blame.

Good, although I suspect you did not write that sentence as you intended. We are paid to tell our clients that this or that needs or must be fixed. We all say that home inspectors should stay away from estimating costs because venturing into how to fix something or how much it will cost, is where we can get into trouble. In our real everyday world, we are constantly asked about costs and staying completely out of that quicksand is easier said than done. For instance, it is common in this market for agents to write contracts that say the buyer will not ask the seller to fix anything that will cost under X dollars (I’ll pick a number, $3000) So a few days ago, the agent asked me every time I noted something defective, “Will that be over $3000?” I answered either “I don’t think so, but you should have a contractor/tech give you an estimate” or “Maybe, but I think you should have a contractor/tech give you an estimate.” (Words to those effects) However, when the roof shingles had extensive hail damage, that was a no brainer, “Yup, that will break the $3K line.” Now, you’d think an agent wouldn’t need to ask me about that, but he may have been testing me to see if I would give the same nonresponse.
The plain truth is that clients and agents expect us to be knowledgeable, including about costs. Telling them that you don’t give verbal estimates (never in writing) frustrates them. A frustrated client starts to look hyper-critically at everything you are doing and worse, can sometimes cause them to question your overall knowledge and credibility.
My point being, don’t volunteer cost estimates, but if pressed, remind everyone that costs are changing rapidly. It is impossible for you to keep up with all the cost changes since you are not a contractor in the trades. Many factors can affect costs, including that different contractors simply charge different labor costs and mark-ups. If still pressed, couch your estimates so broadly with so many caveats, that no one can legitimately complain later. And then wryly, I comment that they can easily find the most expensive guy. My father-in-law ignored me and chose a HVAC company that charged 3 times what my HVAC guy would have charged.

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I’m not aware of it happening a lot in Canada. That’s the same case from above, and it was in 2009, not really recent. Did you find any additional cases from Canada?

I’m not sure if you are suggesting that “recency” has something to do with one’s current vulnerability, but legal precedents from court cases in appellate court usually last up to the time that a law has been changed or the judgments are overturned.

Here’s a Canadian that got nailed for $192,000.00 from a bad estimate.

That’s the same one…

2009-11-21_0.pdf (164.0 KB)

You stated “It happens a lot in Canada”. I thought maybe you knew of more than one case here.

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